Blue and Red
In the room that connected my psyche to the Jewel.
It was as if I was seeing a dream.
The conference room within the gem was that sort of real world of dreams.
In that room, I faced the First Generation. Today, the Third was also in attendance.
Only he was just sitting there, and he wasn’t participating in the conversation.
“What did you want to talk about regarding Aria?”
『Right. How do you view Aria-chan’s impatience?』
I could understand her impatience.
She wanted to become a first-class adventurer no matter what. Therefore, she continued going in circles. Unlike me, there was no doubt she was overflowing with aspirations.
The current me did have the desire to experience a Growth as soon as possible.
But how was I going to live henceforth? Even now, I was troubled over that.
“… She’s going around in circles. I think she could calm down a little.”
To put it bluntly, I wasn’t really counting on her as that great of a fighting force.
She gave us a numerical advantage, and it was a relief to know she has got my back.
To me and Novem, she wasn’t one who would cause harm.
『I want you to resolve that. Can I leave it to you?』
“… Eh? I will?”
Hearing his request, I crossed my arms.
She was a comrade, so it wasn’t like I was unwilling.
If it could be resolved easily, then even I’d be the one requesting for it. But the Third looked at me and shook his head.
On the contrary, the First was overjoyed at me accepting that.
『Good answer! If we don’t dispel the worried of Alice-san’s living likeness, Aria-chan, I’ll never be able to calm down.』
From my point of view, what I didn’t understand was the reason why she was trying to hurry things.
Right now, it was the time for us to earnestly and steadily build up power under Zelphy-san’s direction. If she recklessly got herself injured, there would be no point.
The time when we receive teaching was limited.
(I wonder if I should really ask for an extension.)
Those were the feelings I held.
『Well then, that makes matters fast. Lyle, go fight Aria-chan. Of course, with her using her Gem. You… are prohibited from using Skills.』
On the First’s proposition, it ended up that I would be fighting Aria.
The inside of the Jewel after Lyle had left…
『Are you sure about this?』
The Third spoke as he looked up at the First, who was sitting on the table.
He had perceived the First’s intentions of making Lyle and Aria fight, but he didn’t think everything would proceed as planned, it seemed.
『… You know, I’m not really that smart.』
On the First’s words, the Third nodded.
『Hey, at least deny it a little! You’re my grandson, aren’t you!!?』
The First screamed at his cold treatment from the Third, and the Third broke out into a smile.
Their personalities differed, but to the First, he was his grandson. Compared to the other ancestors, it looked like he knew how to deal with the man.
『I’m not smart, so I can only think of doing it in this way. If it were you, you could probably think of as many better ways as you wanted.』
The Third ceased smiling, and disinterestedly unraveled the alternate method he had thought up.
『Aria-chan… I think it’s a good way for her to gradually build up confidence in herself. She could use the Gem and rack up some achievements battling monsters. Those around her would praise her, and Lyle would just have to provide a follow up. Well, Lyle’s also abnormal, so he probably won’t look out for her that much. Those sort of niceties should be left to Novem-chan, I think.』
It wasn’t like everyone could grow immediately.
The Third wanted to keep the long term in mind and gradually improve the relationship of the three to get the party to take a good shape.
The other heads of history had similar opinions.
The Second despised those who found dissatisfaction with the jobs they were assigned. It seemed like he would propose something more severe.
『I’ll bet that would be fine. Steadily build their relationship, and the three of them will hit it off well. That’s right. There’s no doubt we can handle it cleverly.』
By getting Lyle and Aria to fight, both of them would learn the areas they were lacking in. That was the plan the Third had caught on to.
For Aria, her own lack of ability…
For Lyle, the strength of human will and desire…
He wanted to get them to understand they were both at fault. Of course, starting with the First, the others were waiting for Lyle to get motivated for himself.
Even so, feeling that the First was being impatient, the Third oversaw their discussion and bore witness to it.
『So do you hate shrewd methods?』
『Can’t stand them. But perhaps that sort of way would have a better success rate. It took quite a while for me to realize that, though.』
The First Generation had quite a frank personality.
There were some unexpectedly delicate sides to him, but he was the one who headed the pioneering corps, cut down the forests of monsters, and expanded fields of his own.
A normal person would give up after understanding the difficulty of that, or make the appropriate preparations for it.
『If it’s your guys’ ways, it’ll probably tie itself up nice and pretty. But… in that case, they’ll start to rely on one another.』
『There’s no mistake to be had for relying others in areas where you’re lacking yourself, though. It’s just that I truly do feel Lyle needs to find a little more motivation.』
The First stared intently at the Third, who was usually quite carefree.
『When you say it, it’s got no persuading power, man.』
Saying that, the two of them smiled, but the First stopped and made a serious expression.
If he was but a simple fool, the pioneering corps would have been annihilated, and eaten up by monsters. His extreme instincts and perception made him someone the Third was poor at dealing with.
But he also understood that some senses were needed sometimes.
『Let’s let them clash, and if that doesn’t work, then I’ll be satisfied with that. If it’s that person’s descendants, I don’t think her feelings will lose to Lyle.』
『… So you’re saying there’s no way Lyle will lose as a whole? Well, he probably won’t.』
There was quite a gap in ability between the two.
Aria was the daughter of a noble. She could probably use magic. Looking at her stance while holding her spear, it could be understood that she was trained as the daughter of a warrior.
But compared to Lyle, she fell short.
Even to Lyle, who had never undergone Growth before, Aria fell short. Just like the boy, she didn’t have the necessary aptitude as an adventurer yet, but more than that, she didn’t understand herself.
She was just squirming around recklessly and meaninglessly.
『Let’s leave the healing to Novem-chan and just have them go at each other’s throats for once. Well, it’s a nice way to resolve things, fitting of me, isn’t it?』
『So exchanging blows to deepen friendship? No, is it affection in this case? Lyle still hasn’t accepted that, though』
The Third seemed to be having fun.
In truth, the scene of Lyle’s troubled figure after Novem approved of a harem was quite interesting to him.
『That part included, I want them to collide. Lyle isn’t looking at Aria-chan at all. I want him to recognize her. Even when he knows the pain of being ignored, that bastard is…』
The First let out a sigh.
The Third got the feeling that the First felt Lyle overlapping with himself.
『… Are you sure you aren’t talking about the you of the past?』
Hearing the Third’s words, the First glared at him, but he soon shook his head and took a deep breath.
『Perhaps you’re right.』
For a while, the two stayed there, lost in thought…
After finishing my meal, I told Novem to go out and call Zelphy-san to the house.
I told Aria I had business with her to let us talk.
(It’s the First’s request, so I guess we’ll fight.)
I didn’t know his aim, but I had a good idea of it.
It was probably something like getting Aria to learn her ability level, or something like that.
We walked into the yard, and I turned to her.
“You have your family’s gem, right?”
At my question, she tilted her head and took out the red pendant she had turned into a necklace from under her clothing and showed it to me.
“Of course I have it. In order not to lose it, I always carry it on me. What of it? We’re going out to subjugate monsters today, right? What are you planning, even calling Zelphy over?”
As I thought, because of her impatience, she wanted to finish the preparations and go hunting already. From my point of view, we should put some breaks in with moderation and systematically set out to defeat monsters.
There was no point if you pointlessly got yourself injured, and it wasn’t like we were short on money or anything.
“… When the two of them get here, there’s some vacant land over there, so won’t you fight me?”
On my proposal, she seemed bewildered.
“Why should I? If you don’t like me, then you just have to say it!”
I wasn’t sure what was going through her mind, but it seemed she thought I didn’t like her.
I didn’t have any recollection of having treated her especially cruelly, so I didn’t get where these accusations were coming from.
“It’s not like I dislike you or anything. If you have a gem, then you should know how to use it, right? Then you have a need to test it out, don’t you?”
Hearing me bring up the gem, her face stiffened.
Perhaps she was remembering what happened to the large man from the bandit brigade.
From an overuse of Skills, blood erupted from all over his body. His muscles tore and blood oozed from his mouth and eyes. It wasn’t a good sight for the eyes.
Of course, we were able to treat it with medicine, but I wasn’t sure about his internal bleeding.
The irregular use of Skills…
The compensation for that was large. I mean, it wasn’t the Skill you manifested yourself, so when you tried to use someone else’s Skills, the burden was quite large.
Using the past heads’ Skills, I understood the difficulty of that first-hand.
Even the Skills linked to me by lineage were ridiculously hard for me to control.
If I didn’t put some moderation on my usage, I would have destroyed my body just like the large man.
“Are you scared?”
“I-I’m not scared! If I used this, I’ll definitely be injured, so I don’t want to is all!”
Looking at Aria hiding her fear, I thought to myself, ‘so you don’t care if I’m injured.’
I did measure her strength, but as I thought, even if she was using Skills, Aria was probably weaker than that large bandit.
It wasn’t because she was a woman, but that she had an overwhelming lack of experience. Having only learned magic and spearmanship in theory, she couldn’t reach the level of the large man who practiced on monsters.
“If you’re worried about injury, then there’s no problem. Novem will treat you, and if it gets dangerous, we’ll stop.”
Perhaps out of anger for my tone of speech, Aria’s expression changed.
She was clearly angry.
“What’s with that? Do you think I’m no worthy enemy of you? I admit that you really are strong. But we won’t know something like that unless we try!”
To Aria, who began to show determination, I proposed that if that be the case, why don’t we just fight?
“Then when Novem and Zelphy-san arrive, we’ll start. I’m fine with a wooden sword.”
“Just use your regular sabre! Even I’ve practiced to use Skills!”
Hearing that, I found it a little surprising.
Not pleased with my impression, she glared at me. I had no idea just what I’d done to attract such a scowl.
I mean, they were my frank and honest thoughts.
“Look down on me all you want. You’ll be the one getting hurt!”
Aria turned her back to me and left the area in long strides. I saw her off and let out a sigh. I was going to be fighting her at the First’s request, but I was starting to wonder whether or not this was really alright.
I got the feeling I had made a fatal mistake as a member of the same party.
Since there was no one around me, the Third spoke to me.
His tone was fed up.
『Lyle, have you ever seen your own face in a mirror?』
“What are you talking about? I see it every morning when I wash my face.”
『That was sarcasm, you know. Anyways, that aside, there’s clearly a problem with your current attitude.』
Hearing about a problem, I tilted my head.
An irritated Fourth spoke in a low voice.
『Taking that attitude against a girl is one thing, but I wonder if you really should be fighting. More importantly, you really are dense, Lyle. Or could it be you’re doing all this on purpose?』
I couldn’t comprehend.
I was unable to understand just what it was the Third and Fourth were trying to tell me. In order to let Aria know her current skill level, and to get her to have a taste of what it felt like to use her Skills. That was why we were fighting, was it not?
The Sixth, who didn’t speak up often dropped by for once.
『You’re not noticing any of it? Lyle, you…』
The Seventh let out a remark, as if to pressure me.
『That attitude right now was certainly rude. Still, Lyle, I also think you need to look at yourself and reflect on it.』
If I had to pick a side, the Sixth and Seventh usually supported me, but still they said I was in the wrong.
As I tried to recall whether I had said something bad, the Fifth entered the conversation.
『If you didn’t notice, then that’s where it ends. Well, you’re young, so I guess there are some things we cannot help. Look, it’s about time you start preparing yourself as well. Also, just as with Skills, don’t use magic.』
While the Fifth said that, I didn’t have such intentions from the beginning.
“I won’t do anything like that. I don’t want to injure her or anything.”
『… Don’t want to injure her, is it? Well how grand of you.』
The Fifth also sounded fed up.
I returned to the house and started preparing. I hung my sabre at my waist and decided to carry my spare as well.
Perhaps because Aria had left first, there wasn’t anyone in the house.
At times like these, I start to remember my lonely days back at the manor.
“It’s really quiet. Just like at that time.”
Saying that, I looked around the room. Normally, Novem was doing housework, and Aria was trying to assist her. That was the scene as of late.
It was only recently that I started to take in that imagery as if it were normal. Before that, Aria’s presence was always slightly unsettling.
(As I thought, harems and me are two separate things. Also, I don’t think that sort of thing will be pleasant.)
It was mainly the expectations of my surroundings, and the First’s request that led me to taking in Aria.
But perhaps that was a mistake. I thought.
From the start, I didn’t think too much of her. I never even tried to think of how it was I thought of her.
As I absentmindedly stared at the ceiling, I heard a voice.
Zelphy-san and Novem were in front of the house.
I headed to the vacant lot to find Aria waiting for me.
Likely because she had finished warming up, she was sweating a little. Perhaps because of determination, the eyes glaring at me harbored quite a strong will.
Due to the redevelopment of the area, many evictions were carried out and houses were demolished, creating a lot of empty space.
In one of such places, the girl with a red orb hanging from her neck, Aria, faced me.
The sun hadn’t even started to rise yet.
(This’ll end before noon, wont it?)
In my head, I made plans so as to end my fight with Aria before noon came.
“You sure look calm.”
It sounded like she was provoking me, she let out those lines as I had a break in my concentration. Without a doubt, Aria was mad.
Looking at that, both Novem and Zelphy-san seemed fed up.
Yesterday they were fed up with Aria, and today, it seemed they were fed up with me. Their eyes were clearly trying to tell me something.
“I’d like it if you notified me of a change in plans a day in advance. I mean, I’ve got my schedule to keep too. Well, I’ll follow my client. It probably won’t be a complete waste. But Lyle, are you even motivated at all?”
Zelphy looked at me with doubtful eyes, and Novem was the same as she stood beside her.
“Lyle-sama, please concentrate. You’re being rude to Aria-san. At this rate, you’ll be gravely injured.”
I nodded to a worried Novem, pulled out my Sabre, and took a stance.
Aria also held up her lance. Her temper seemed impatient, and she was putting a lot of needless power into her stance.
“I’ll be going at you seriously.”
As Aria declared her serious intent, I nodded.
“Be careful not to injure yourself.”
At that moment.
Aria took a large step and suddenly started repeatedly thrusting out her lance as if to impale me.
It was a Skill the large man displayed.
I turned half my body to avoid it and used the hilt of my Sabre to repel it. Having her stance destroyed, she fell forward, and I jumped aside.
With one hand on the ground, she raised her head with her eyes wide open. And she angrily gritted her teeth as she glared at me.
“Why didn’t you attack me?”
She stood up and corrected her posture. On the contrary, I was confused.
“Eh? No, I mean… It’ll be over soon enough…”
As I stated my true and honest feelings, Aria’s expression became more and more grim.
Looking at that expression, my heart suddenly started to hurt.
(What is this?)
Aria swung her lance, and a shockwave shot at me. Its output wasn’t as high, nor was its blade as sharp as the one the large man displayed before. I dodged.
Returning the pole she had swung in a large arc back to her body, Aria looked out of breath.
She forcibly used a Skill, and it looked like she was exhausting her stamina. She had neither the technique nor power to use her Skills consecutively. The proof was in the pudding.
However, with her sweat pouring out and her breath cut short… she continued to come at me.
Her weapon let off a faint light, but she just stabbed it at me normally. I took the blow with the sabre, but the feel was different from before.
This was likely a Skill as well. As I dodged the next two blows, she likely realized I had seen through her movements.
If I thought about the remaining Skills, there was that muscle strengthening as well. It didn’t feel like she was using it, so perhaps she wasnt’ used to it yet.
I dodged her thrust spear, stepped close to her, and grabbed the shaft with my left hand.
She struggled to make me let go, and I was about to tell her the match was over already. But I couldn’t let out my voice.
Aria thrust out her weapon to create distance and glared at me.
“What’s with that posing… If I’m really that weak, then just end me already!”
Out of breath, and with a despaired expression, tears began to flow down her face.
Looking at that, I was able to slightly comprehend what the ancestors were trying to tell me.
(I see, so the attitude I showed Aria was… the same as Celes’s.)
I got the feeling I knew the source of the pain in my chest.
I understood the ancestors’ intent.
I could grasp the reason for Novem’s and Zelphy-san’s eyes.
I could even nod at Aria’s mortified face.
“I see. So I was never really looking at you, was I.”
I get the feeling that the figure of the girl mortifyingly holding up her spear, about to burst into tears, had overlapped with mine own.